Displaying items by tag: Kitty Block

By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block

As the COVID-19 crisis escalates, we are asking Congress to act quickly on an important bill that would ensure that millions of animals held in research laboratories and enterprises like puppy mills and roadside zoos across the country are not forgotten.

The Providing Responsible Emergency Plans for Animals at Risk of Emerging Disasters (PREPARED) Act, H.R. 1042, introduced last year by Reps. Dina Titus, D-Nev., and Peter King, R-N.Y., is ripe for passage, with more than 200 bipartisan cosponsors. The bill would require all facilities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including commercial animal dealers, exhibitors and research labs, to have emergency response plans for the animals in their care when disaster strikes.

This commonsense idea has been on the table for many years, but the urgency to pass it is greater today than ever before. With cities and states imposing quarantines and curfews, and businesses shuttering their doors and asking employees to stay home, animals in institutional settings are extremely vulnerable to neglect and/or abandonment. Our federal government has a responsibility to protect them, and to hold such facilities accountable.

The PREPARED Act would require regulated facilities to submit plans that identify emergency situations, including human and natural disasters (pandemics, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, etc.), power outages and animal escapes, and institute specific policies and protocols to respond to these emergencies. Plans would need to include instructions for evacuating the animals, shelter-in-place, provision of backup food and water, sanitation, ventilation, bedding and veterinary care.

We already know that not including animals in disaster plans can lead to terrible outcomes. After Hurricane Katrina, more than 600,000 animals were abandoned. Some people refused to evacuate and lost their lives because they couldn’t bear to abandon their pets. At our urging, Congress then went on to pass the PETS Act, which required state and local authorities to take into account—and to plan for—the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals before, during and after a disaster. Unfortunately, the law did not cover commercially owned animals, which is the reason the Humane Society Legislative Fund has been pushing for the PREPARED Act.

Not requiring commercial facilities to have a plan in place also places undue burden on first responders, the local community and nongovernmental entities involved with rescue efforts. Because of Katrina and many other deployments, the Humane Society of the United States knows firsthand the difficulties of providing care for thousands of animals in a significant disaster, and the COVID-19 crisis is a disaster of a greater scale than our country has ever experienced.

Facilities doing National Institutes of Health-funded research are already required to have disaster plans for their animals, as are those accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The PREPARED Act would simply level the playing field to ensure that puppy mills, roadside zoos and other regulated facilities also have emergency response plans. It’s a win-win for the businesses too, because it helps them safeguard their activity while ensuring animals they use are not abandoned without care in a time of crisis.

The world around us is changing every day. As we focus on keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe, we cannot and should not forget the millions of voiceless animals in puppy mills, roadside zoos and research labs. They need our help now, more than ever. Please take a moment to contact your federal legislators and urge them to cosponsor the PREPARED Act if they haven’t yet, and do all they can to get this bill passed immediately.

Kitty Block is President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

Humane Society of the United States undercover investigation shows plight of dogs in a laboratory being dosed with pesticides and drugs

There are more than 60,000 dogs used annually in experiments at hundreds of labs across the country

WASHINGTON (March 12, 2019) – Today the Humane Society of the United States revealed the results of an undercover investigation at an animal testing laboratory where thousands of dogs are killed every year. The investigation reveals the suffering and death of beagles and hounds used in toxicity tests for pesticides, drugs, dental implants and other products.

Over the span of the nearly 100 days, an investigator documented nearly two dozen short-term and long-term experiments that involved tests on dogs. The Humane Society of the United States investigator saw dogs killed at the end of studies, and others suffering for months including 36 gentle beagles being tested for a Dow AgroSciences pesticide.

Dow commissioned this laboratory to force-feed a fungicide to beagles for a year, with some dogs being subjected to very high doses – so high that up to four capsules had to be shoved down their throats.  Those who survive until the designated end date of the study in July will be killed. Dow has publicly acknowledged that this one-year test is scientifically unnecessary. The United States government eliminated this test as a requirement more than 10 years ago and nearly all countries throughout the world have followed suit through efforts that have been led by Humane Society International in cooperation with members of the industry, including Dow.

Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and president of Humane Society International, said: “The disturbing findings at this facility are sadly not unique. Experiments are happening at hundreds of laboratories each year throughout the country, with more than 60,000 dogs suffering. But that does not have to be the fate for these 36 beagles. For months we have been urging Dow to end the unnecessary test and release the dogs to us. We have gone to considerable lengths to assist the company in doing so, but we simply cannot wait any longer; every single day these caged dogs are being poisoned and are one day closer to being killed. We must turn to the public to join us in urging Dow to stop the test immediately and to work with us to get these dogs into suitable homes.” 

This investigation was carried out at Charles River Laboratories in Michigan, and this is only a snapshot of what is going on in the U.S. including at for-profit companies, government facilities and universities for various testing and research purposes. The dogs are often provided by commercial breeders -- one of which, Marshall BioResources had more than 22,000 dogs at one facility in June 2018.  

Beagles are used in testing because of their docile nature, which was evident during this investigation conducted between April and August 2018. The Humane Society of the United States shared its findings with Dow and has been negotiating with the company in hopes of securing the release of the 36 dogs in their study.

Video released of the investigation shows workers carrying out experiments on dogs on behalf of three companies – Paredox Therapeutics, Above and Beyond NB LLC and Dow AgroSciences.

Among the beagles tested on, the Humane Society of the United States documented the horrible short life of one dog named Harvey who clearly sought attention by humans and was characterized by the laboratory staff as “a good boy.”

Harvey was being used to test the safety of two substances when poured into the chest cavity in a study commissioned by Paredox Therapeutics that received support from the University of Vermont. Hounds were also used when the protocol called for a larger dog breed, such as a study by Above and Beyond Therapeutics for surgical implantation of a device to pump drugs through the spinal canal. Charles River carried out tests on dogs for at least 25 companies during the time of the Humane Society of the United States investigation.  

Scientific studies have shown that more than 95 percent of drugs fail in humans, even after what appear to be promising results in animals. The Humane Society of the United States is seeking to replace dogs and other animals with more effective non-animal approaches that will better serve humans.  

“It is our obligation to tell the stories of the animals and move science, policy and corporate ethics into the 21st century,” Block added.